Sunday, September 28, 2014

my aching late 40-something feet!  there was a light sprinkle at mid-day.  anna gave nick and me a ride downtown to the convention center where there was a reptile and insect show.  the show is not a traveling zoo as i thought it was a couple of years ago.  no way.  it is a market where exotic creatures are for sale.  i asked a vendor how is the market for snakes and lizards.  he told me the market is great at the high end but crappy at the low-end.  high end: snakes for tens of thousands of dollars; low end: snakes for fifteen hundred and less.  sacramento is not a high end kind of town.  but he comes to the reptile show for the publicity.

nick and i are not in the market for such a pet.  we just like looking at all the astonishing creatures and insects.  this year nick was brave enough to hold a tarantula.  i, too, was brave enough to hold a tarantula and another arachnid that looked like a scorpion but was told -- emphatically -- by the retailer was not a scorpion.

but then we walked the two miles plus home.  after last night's adventure in the corn maze my dogs -- nicks too - are baying.

but then this evening my father visits and anna and i and my old man had a nice long talk about the fucked-up-edness of the world.

anna read last night's post and pointed out a couple of misspellings and awkward sentences.  i took notes.

jaws 2 [1978] is on the TV right now.  it's not a good movie.  but it ain't bad.  my old man took me and my brothers to see it.  i remember the exact theater, it is still there, and perhaps even the seats we were sitting in.

reading a few poets online.  my happiness is immense.

one poet reminds us that our lives need not leave happiness out.  another poet reminds us a life of humility is a revolutionary act.  

everyday is halloween

it's become an annual tradition, getting lost in the corn.  the little agri-burg dixon has a very cool pumpkin patch, cool patch pumpkins, with what must be the world's largest corn maze.    

b. and j. got here a little early.  we had a few chores to do then we had an early dinner at a local greek restaurant.  then we headed to the maze.  it took a while to get there.  a lot of traffic on the road.  road work too.  we got at the pumpkin patch about 6:30 p.m.  the elderly security guard at the entrance told us not to worry, we'll get out, eventually. 

b. was prepared.  he prepped the map and with a highlighter pen scored our journey.  i checked my watch.  we entered the maze at 7:00 p.m.  there are four bridges in the maze.  we got to the first bridge at 7:15 p.m.  making good time.  we got to the second bridge an hour and half later.  not good time.

we were not the only ones lost.  everyone we encountered got lost.  we began recognizing groups of people.  some would follow us because it looked like we knew what we were doing.  i think people followed us because we looked old to the mostly young people in the maze and so because of b. and my advanced ages, along with having flashlights, and a highlighted map, with two children in tow, we must know what we were doing.


the maze this year is fiendishly difficult.  also, it is early in the scary season so the paths on the maze are still fresh.  meaning that a lot of the corn later in the season gets flattened and paths get pretty worn making find your way out a little easier.  tonight the paths were dense with corn allowing a narrow passage. 

we were fine for the first two hours and got to the second bridge in okay time.  but the last third was a killer.  nick and j. were holding up well.  they were tired and sore.  i looked at my watch.  it was 10:30 p.m.  we had been in the maze for three and half hours.  the final portion of the maze consisted of a lot of switchbacks that were dead-ends.  we no longer heard voices of other maze goers.  nick saw a large rate and a huge toad. 

we met a group of teenagers who were hopelessly lost.  they asked if they can follow us.  they were worried they might have to camp in the corn for the night.  by 10:45 p.m. i started to worry about that too.  we could see the klieg lights burning at the edges of the maze and the roar of the generators.  we knew we were close to the exit.  we were tired.  we felt responsible for the teenagers.  one called her mother on her cell phone and said that she met up with some 'very smart people' [yes, that is a direct quote and i wanted to tell her that we were simply going on our nerve] who looked 'like they've been to college' [another quote, that kid was sweet and i think a bit nervous about being lost].  we needed to get out of the corn for the sake of those teens, our two boys, and my sanity.

we were fouled in the switchbacks.  one dead end after another.  we could hear the generators for the lights.  b. looked at the map and said we made a wrong turn at the last bridge.  we needed to double back.  we did just that.  we took a couple of turns to the right.  there was the exit.  and two golf carts with workers waiting for us.  the teens screamed.  we were the last group to come out of the corn.  i said, you can't be waiting for us!  but they were.  they said, hop on and we'll get you to your cars.

it was a long four hour adventure.  i'm looking at the map now and wondering what sadist devised it. i asked a worker if 11:00 p.m. was the latest he had to wait for people to get out of the corn.  he said no, the latest was 3:00 a.m.  because they count the cars in the lots and wait for people until they come out.  in fact in the rules section of the maze map is, and i quote, ''stay on the pathways.  you'll eventually come out.'  we did.  the teens were taken to their waiting parents.  we climbed into b.'s truck and made our way back home.

it was a long night.  a special night.  an adventure.  i am still wired from the adventure.  nick is in bed and will sleep like a babe.  i'm sure b. and j. will too.  we couldn't have asked for a more perfect night.  getting lost in corn is, i'm telling you, one of life's greatest pleasures.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

back to old skool

pulling long hours at work so that when i get home i have energy for the most basic of tasks and little else.  i read a bit in the morning -- nearly always poetry -- and after dinner and an hour or two with anna and nick i try to stay awake to watch a little TV or a movie.  last night i fell asleep watching a documentary on climate change and overpopulation.  when i climb into bed i take a book or magazine -- rolling stone, the new yorker, vanity fair, et al. -- read a few sentences and pass out.

boo hoo! 

and yet, i owe some writing to a couple of friends.  i feel guilty for not honoring my friends and fellow poets -- my brothers and sisters in the art -- because of my limited abilities.  oh, yeah.  this ain't no cry fest to feel sorry for myself.  life is short.  my life -- right in the middle of it, i hope -- is the only one i got.  if there is one thing i take seriously and honor the most, other than my family, is friends.  i am good at feeling guilty especially if i feel i am falling short in my friendship.  guilt, it seems, is a very human ability and i could compete in the olympics if it were a sport.

but like i said life is short.  love is what you make.  i woke up this morning thinking to myself, dude you are gonna die sooner than you know, enjoy your fucking life, listen to more music.  so with that i'm kicking it old skool.  next week b., c. and i will venture out to see social distortion.  and then on nov. 7 i am going to s.f. to see slowdive at the warfield!  fucking A right!  slowdive and social distortion, my two most favorite bands.

i was checking out some my bloody valentine stuff online a few days ago.  then i went to youtube and watched a few slowdive performances -- recall that slowdive, an early '90s shoegaze band from, i believe reading, england, broke up by the mid-90s.  they reformed with all original members this summer and performed at many festivals.  i went to their website and saw that they added a north american tour.  s.f. is part of that tour.  now, as far as i know, among all the persons in my immediate orbit, i am the only one who is bat-shit crazy about slowdive.  but the band is really that good.  i told anna that the show was sold out but you can purchase tickets via the second-hand online dealers.  long story short: she bought me the tix today.

now, if i sound like a kid on christmas morning so be it.  not seeing slowdive live was my one regret with the bands i love.  i love, for example, the throwing muses, i've never seen them live and i doubt i ever will, but i don't care.  slowdive, well hell, that band, i can't explain why, matters a great deal to me.

friends and coworkers know who social distortion is even if they are not familiar with their music.  but when i saw the word slowdive i get blank looks.  when i told coworkers anna got us tickets to see slowdive i said simply i'm going back to old skool to learn a few new grooves.

oh yes, it rained today.  glorious rain.  poring goddamned rain this morning.  i got soaked on my way to work.  then it cleared up.  to a gorgeous day.  we need more rain.  a lot more rain.  a lot lot lot lot more rain.  a friend reminded me that every fall i rhapsodize about the light, cooler weather, changing foliage, pumpkins, goblins and ghouls, of autumn.  i do.  like a broken record.  or a well-worn groove.  i do that because i love this time of year.  even when i am feeling a bit blue it is hard not to share the pleasures of being alive at this time of year.

now, if you'll excuse me i have some writing i want to do!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

every day is halloween

the scary season is not complete without at least one visit to a spirit halloween retailer.  and we did just that this afternoon, nick and i.  nick is going to be a MAD SCIENTIST for halloween.  anna's ordered him the lab coat, the goggles, the long black gloves and a bow tie.  this is the first year we are piecing a costume together instead of buying a costume pre-made.  the trip to spirit halloween was a reconnaissance mission to find a few more accoutrement's and make-up to make mad the MAD SCIENTIST.

what a delight to shop for halloween with a nine-year-old!  the world is fresh, and scary, in the eyes of a child.  nick is a great kid but there were a few of the animatronics that made him nervous.  as a middle-aged life-long freak of all things horror and halloween it is easy to overlook the things that go bump in the night.  i don't mean  i possess a jaded or exhausted world view of horror.  but a screaming zombie, however creatively composed, looks like another stiff toy.

not so for nick.  so i looked thru his eyes, and when he took my hand and said, daddy let's get out of here, i looked at the thing i was looking at with a fresh perspective.  i was scared too. and yes, we high-tailed it the hell out of the area.

it was a thrilling perspective, very like riding a roller coaster.  you are safe on a roller coaster but the thrills and scares of the ride quickens your blood.  same with the scares of halloween.  i wasn't at the store to scare nick.  i didn't look at things to scare nick.  i think purposely scaring children is an evil act.  when nick acted nervous around some of the things inside the store we avoided those things.  we bought a few trinkets for nick's costume.  i delighted in the items of the scary season.  nick reminded me of me when i was his age.  i was terrified of some things, and fascinated, at the same time.  some of us love riding the roller coaster even if it scares us and makes us sick.  halloween is that season for such thrills.  nick and i got thru the check-out without a hitch and when we were exiting there was a life-size zombie butler to see you off.  nick stopped me and said, daddy, press the button [when you press the button on these things that makes them go and scare].  i pressed the button.  the butler did not come online to scare us off.  instead we took his silence in stride and walked off into the parking lot and early evening sun.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

reality is text it is also image it is too sound i looked toward the sky and the sky was full of smoke and clouds there was a bit of lightning perhaps a bit more is expected there are fires east and west of us tonight at dinner we looked up and saw a fire fighter plane on approach to landing and refueling the land is dry tinder it is dry

Thursday, September 18, 2014

everyday is halloween

for the last two weeks we've been going to lake natomas for a little late summer kayaking.  on the way to and from the lake we pass a locally famous -- famous if you are say between the ages of 35 to 50 -- ancient 1980s all-ages dance club called, yep, the mine shaft.  the mine shaft has been closed for many many many years.  it survived for a while as a miniature golf course.  and then it was for a moment an RV dealership.  now it is a large lot with a huge vacant three story building.  a grounds and building perfect for the temporary home of a halloween haunted house.

each time we pass the mine shaft i try to catch as much as i can of the ongoing construction of the haunted house.  it is the same outfit, heartstoppers, a western-themed scare joint that my father and i visited last year.  and yep, i plan on making another trip to the haunted house.  or two.  with some friends and maybe i can get my old man to go with me again.

haunted houses, pumpkins at the grocery store, jack o'lanterns, halloween candy, and a few scary movies, this is -- you guessed it -- my favorite time of year.  halloween is as much in the heart as its imagery and manifestations are in your face during the month of october.

this is the time of year casa de bronson/lopez turns -- not into a haunted house -- into an expression of autumn.  starting now, in addition to poems, essays and rants, really bad movies will post the odd horror movie review, memories and ruminations of halloween past and present, videos of haunted attractions, and sundries related to the high holiday scary season.

might your scares be true.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

short attention span poems

the check out lines at safeway were crowded everyone jockeying for position some entered the grocery store saw the crowds and walked straight out while i biding my time in line looked around and thought if no one here is my enemy perhaps they are my friends

* * *

i saw a ghost or perhaps it saw me at any rate i saw something standing there like a shadow without a body to cast it

* * *

there are holes in my chuck t's i need a new pair each pebble or beer bottle cap my feet land on during my walks brings my attention to a sharp point of hurt

* * *

 if i die tomorrow i will regret never having visited jamaica

Sunday, September 14, 2014

saturday double-feature

hubert selby, jr.: it'll be a better tomorrow [2005]

it was hotter than the surface of the sun, triple digit highs during the day.  makes me want to cocoon with a book and/or movie.  and i did just that yesterday.  after the sprinkler guy, a real cool old bohemian/hippie dubbed 'the irrigation einstein', left after he completed the work that knocked me on my ass last weekend, i switched to the on-demand documentary channel, docurama, and watched a couple of flicks.  the first is the above titled feature.

selby is that rare artist, a genuinely good man.  his fiction is tougher than leather.  his characters lead lives of addiction and madness.  but the man himself  -- gruff, ornery -- was on a spiritual journey.  he was a bodhisattva of the late 20th C.  this documentary is a testament to selby's goodness.

selby did not die rich or famous.  and yet his goodness and his writing touched millions of people.  this flick has the usual talking heads recounting the decades of addiction and bad health.  his friends, and i think if you knew selby he was your friend, also tells us of the love he shared and cultivated with the people in his life.  i should've taken notes and wrote down some selby quotes.  nevertheless, this movie is a delight of the mind and senses.  and a life lesson for artists, one does not need to be an asshole to be a good artist.

happy [2011]

in 1621 richard burton published the anatomy of melancholy.  ever since, it is cool to be schooled in depression.  most of our artists and writers have trafficked in the southern end of our emotional palette.  so have scientists, economists, politicians and all the rest of us.  a poet's work is given more gravitas if it explores the blues.  if a poet writes about joy we look at her work with a sideways glance.  for sure, you can't be serious if you are happy, right?

that trend is turning.  there is a branch of brain science studying happiness.  what makes us happy?  this documentary asks this question and comes to some non-surprising answers. 

the filmmakers travel the world and seek out peoples, and scientists who are studying this relatively new field, whose claim on happiness exceeds the average u.s.american.  and they found out what makes us happy are not wealth and the acquisition of more and more stuff.  50 percent of our happiness is based on genetics.  that is our set point.  some people are more prone to be happy while others are not.  10 percent depends on circumstance, like having enough money.  40 percent is a mystery but can be influenced by our training.  we can teach ourselves to become happier people.

we are so conditioned to poo-poo the language of happiness.  but why?  this is a refreshing documentary.  very few of our poets write from and thru joy and happiness.  whitman was such a poet, and i think the cuban-born jose kozer is another.  we need more happy poets.  that is not an oxymoron.  first start with the first noble truth: life is fucked up.  and yet, we can, with practice, be happy. 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

why i love [post]apocalyptic movies

there is a scene in the new zealand sci-fi flick the quiet earth [1985] when the three characters, who each thought they were the last person on earth, discover each other, break down in laughter and deeply embrace.  before that moment of meeting they were complete strangers.  at that moment of meeting they became great intimates.  a deeply moving scene about our need for human warmth and contact.  for in the better [post]apocalyptic movies the characters, and we the viewers, must examine the question, how should we live.  some of these films enact the needs of survival so bleakly the characters resort to murder, duplicity, hatred, fear and paranoia.  but there are other end-of-the-world movies where the characters come together in love and friendship.

i know of two movies, last night [1998] and seeking a friend for the end of the world [2012], where the characters are faced with a quickly approaching doomsday and who embody the question: how should we live.  rather than resort to barbarism the characters in both of these films struggle in their fear of death and the end of all things.  but they remain good people.

the sci-fi and horror genres are rife with all kinds of tales of madness and butchery when the story is about the end of the world.  and yet there are many of us -- i think -- who will band together and cooperate.  cormac mccarthy's book, and movie, the road was about just that, how to live and be a good person in a world gone mad.  take for example the sandra oh character in the canadian film last night.  the end of the world was known for a few months.  on the last day oh is having trouble getting home to her husband.  oh and her husband, who remained at his job at the power company so the city can have power all the way to the last minute, made a suicide pact.  at a specific time the couple planned on shooting each other.  things don't work out that way.  instead, oh meets another character who tries to help her get home, unsuccessfully.  but these two strangers bond, become intimate friends, and face the end together.

steve carrell's wife in seeking a friend for the end of the world bolts in panic and leaves carrell as soon as news of an incoming asteroid that will destroy the planet in three weeks.  society has gone, of course, topsy-turvy.  keira knightley is a young neighbor woman who promises to help carrell seek out an old high school sweethart.  knightley's family is in england so she has no one to turn to.  the movie is a road trip of crazies, goonies, and sweetly insane people.  of course knightley and carrell fall in love.  we get that and we get the fact that if the world wasn't going to end tomorrow they would never have exchanged but a few words together.  and that is the point, faced with death how do you want to live?

and that is why i love these kinds of movies.  because we are dying every day.  when faced with our mortality we soon -- i hope -- shall know what matters the most to us.  if i had six months to live i would do exactly what i do now: high dive into the OED, read, write, watch crazy movies, love my family and be a good friend.  if the world was going to end in six months i would do the same.

there is a tender scene in seeking a friend for the end of the world when carrell and knightley almost run over a line of beach-side pilgrims.  these pilgrims are getting baptized beside the sea.  these people are families and folk of all stripes.  our friends watch the ceremony and stay for the picnic.  they laugh and play with these people because it is near the end and they have become all friends.  and why not.  the Other is not the Other when it becomes your friend.

and just the thing for fear because even when we study our lives and face our deaths i am reminded of FDR's great quote in another time of great peril and uncertainty: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  fear is what makes us commit violence.  fear is what makes the Other a stranger.  fear is a stunted emotion.  it retards our thinking and impedes good works.  when we confront our doom, our finiteness of mind, body and also of our home the earth, for it too is a finite place, we ask ourselves how do we want to live?  do we want to be good people or become violent creatures?  sometimes we are both.

these are not easy questions and cannot be answered in a few glib sentences.  so we have literature -- and movies i think are literature -- to explore, test and enact -- our fears so we can ask, when you know you are going to die, how do you want to live?  

an utter beauty

call me Ol' Softy because this performance by san fermin brings tears of happiness to my eyes

Saturday, September 06, 2014

today was one of those days where what looked like a small chore that should take an hour turns into a huge debacle.  today anna and i changed out our lawn sprinklers to low flow lawn sprinklers on account of the severe drought.  the drought is bad, very bad.  driving thru the central valley last week we could see how parched the land is.  dry.  bone dry.  drier than a dry martini.

so we want to switch out to a low flow sprinkler system that uses less water.  all i needed to do was take out the old sprinklers and put in the new ones.  ha!  my hands are freaking raw from all the twisting and turning.  the new sprinklers are a little wider than the old ones which makes things a bit more interesting.  the holes made for the old sprinklers are a bit small so it takes a bit of wiggling with the palm of your hand to get the new low flow puppies in there.  and then there you have to line the sprinklers with the underground coupling just right and screw them together.  underground!  you can't see what the hell you are doing.

let's just say we duked it out with the new sprinklers and the new sprinklers won.  fuck.

but that wasn't all.  we did new planting too.  our one hour chore turned into a several hours monster.  also, i ain't so young no more.  it got hot today, upper 90s F, felt like heat stroke, and in addition to my raw hamburger hands my back is aching and my knees are fucked up.

ooh shit.

just the same, i am doing my best to practice mindfulness.  dogen says somewhere -- i take this quote from the poet stefan hyner -- to study the self is to forget the self, to forget the self is to be enlightened by all things, to be enlightened by all things is to lose the barrier between self and the Other.  today that Other was our sprinkler system.  i could hear that fucker laughing at me.   

Friday, September 05, 2014

100 Anti-Years

today is anti-poet nicanor parra's 100 birthday.  100 years!  geezuz! 
still alive and writing

viva la parra!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

the blue dahlia [1946]

one of the best movies i've seen in quite a long time.  directed by george marshall, written by raymond chandler, starring alan ladd as a WWII bomber pilot, veronica lake as a mobster's moll, and william bendix as ladd's WWII pal who sustained a brain injury during the war, this film is great noir filmmaking.

anna and i caught this flick on TCM sunday night when we were unpacking from our vacation.  i love the clipped tuff-guy street patter of these noir pics.  i could close my eyes and just listen to its language.

the gist is this, ladd returns to l.a. after the war with his two veteran pals, including bendix, and finds his wife is not only a lush but unfaithful too.  she is carrying on with a mobster who is married to veronica lake.  later the wife is murdered.  ladd is a lead suspect.

the plot is full of winding turns and twists yet it is not very difficult to guess who might be the killer.  when we do find out who killed ladd's wife it is a bit of a letdown.  the reasons for murder by this individual seemed tacked on by chandler and marshall.

still, it is a gorgeously photographed movie.  lake is a real blond bombshell.  ladd is solid as the man wrongly accused of a horrendous crime.  bendix is just freaking great as the troubled but loyal pal.

i mentioned loving the language of noir cinema.  spoken language in this pic is clipped, cadenced and heavily salted with double-negatives.  there is a real beauty in the dialogue.  poems should be composed in it.  nevertheless, this movie gives me hope that perhaps the human species can do a few good things.  like create moving art and music.  for this movie is a testament of vernacular cinema composed at the first intensity.  

week at the beach

the small beach hamlet of cayucos, california is the beach town time forgot.  very little development.  lots of funky houses.  surfers and skateboarders and beach bums -- me for the week!  -- crowd the main street and the large, wide sandy beaches during summer.  this is our second year of seeing the summer out by learning to be simple and chill, frolic in the surf, watching the stars in the night sky, and listening to the roar of the pacific ocean as sea meets sands.

we saw dolphins 10 yards from the shore.  we witnessed the majesty of humpback whales breach the ocean creating massive wakes.  we were awestruck when pods of orcas roiled the waves. 

you don't swim in the pacific at cayucos.  you dive and ride on its waves.  i tried body surfing and boogie boarding.  yep, you got it, i did more wipe outs than rides.  nick took to the surf like a natural surfer.

the thing is when you go on vacation you take your burdens with you.  it takes a few days to learn to let go and unwind.  americans usually don't give themselves enough time for a proper vacation.  a week is not enough.  as soon as i started to learn the rhythms of beach living i had to start thinking about home, work and their attendant stressors.

still, it's better to have had a week than not to have one at all.  as faulkner so eloquently wrote, between the beach and nothing i'll take the beach.